Life skills

Life skills are building blocks of independence and self-efficacy. They are combinations of different capabilities that enable adults to become lifelong learners, live independent life and contribute to society. EAEA strongly believes that a life skills approach in adult learning can benefit individuals, organisations and communities.

It is right and proper that everyone has the essential skills and capabilities that they need for life and work in the 21st century. This certainly includes basic skills such as literacy and numeracy but also the key competences as defined in the revised European Reference Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning and adopted by the Council of the European Union in 2018. Adult education provides skills and learning experiences that have a number of benefits and purposes and offers many ways that will support individuals throughout their careers and lives.

EAEA, together with members and partners, has developed a framework of life skills, which demonstrates the need for lifelong and life-wide learning for everyone. Based on new economic, technological and societal developments, we will all have to update our life skills.

Adult education transforms lives and provides new opportunities. It opens up new job opportunities, provides the pathway to learning, helps early school leavers return to education, activates people’s artistic and cultural passions and leads to health and well-being.

Research evidence

According to BeLL study, adult learners experience many benefits. 

It is not only the direct learning outcomes that are important for people: research data (BeLL study) show that adult learners experience numerous benefits from non-formal adult education. They feel healthier and appear to lead healthier lifestyles; they build new social networks and experience improved well-being. Moreover, adults who participate in liberal adult education appear to feel more motivated to engage in lifelong learning and view it as an opportunity to improve their lives.

These benefits were reported by learners across all course areas, ranging from languages and the arts to sport and civic education. People with a low level of education benefit particularly from adult education.

Good practice

Citizens’ Curriculum in the UK is an example of life skills approach to learning

The Citizens’ Curriculum in the UK is an approach to adult learning provision for disadvantaged learners to ensure that everyone can improve their English, maths and other ‘life skills’ resulting in better progression, outcomes and aspirations – into and at work, in learning, and in personal, family and community life. The model promotes locally led learning and involves learners in shaping its content. It interlinks basic skills in English (or English for Speakers of Other Languages), literacy and numeracy with digital, financial, health and civic capabilities.

The crucial element of this program is interlinking as many skills and capabilities as are relevant in the context and in the light of the learners’ needs. The flexible model can be adapted and used across neighbourhoods and in different delivery contexts. The participatory approach to curriculum design and delivery increases the engagement and motivation of the learners. Interlinking of basic skills with wider skills and capabilities leads to positive outcomes for learners, including changes in their employability, improvements in their attitudes towards learning, increased social and civic engagement and improved self-efficacy as reported by evaluations of the pilots.